HOOVER, Ala. -- The pain of the last-second loss to Clemson in the national championship game hasn't gone away for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Nick Saban, who is entering his 11th season as coach in Tuscaloosa, said Wednesday that "everybody was hurt by" the 35-31 defeat in Tampa.
Alabama took a three-point lead in the game with less than two minutes remaining only for Clemson and quarterback Deshaun Watson to drive 68 yards into the end zone for the win.
"We played against a really, really good team ... and we weren't able to finish the game like we needed to," Saban said. "There were a lot of lessons to learn, and hopefully we won't waste a failure."
Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley, who had just five catches for 36 yards against Clemson, told reporters at SEC media days, "We needed that."
"We have a chip on our shoulder," the junior from South Florida explained.
Alabama opens next season on Sept. 2 against Florida State in Atlanta.
"They probably have as many good players returning as anyone in college football," Saban said of the Seminoles.
The Crimson Tide lose several starters on defense, including the consensus Defensive Player of the Year in Jonathan Allen and Dick Butkus Award winner Reuben Foster. However, the team returns its entire running back corps, as well as quarterback Jalen Hurts, who became the first true freshman to win SEC Offensive Player of the Year since Herschel Walker.
Starting inside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, who was lost for the season with a knee injury against Florida in the SEC title game last year, is cleared to participate fully in camp, Saban said.